Palestine Update 224
Israel’s apartheid season only grows longer and more vicious
Apartheid is racism in blatant display of arrogance by a ruling clique that deems itself superior to the group that it seeks to exercise control over.
Jewish people’s self understanding is that they are superior over the Arab people. This is founded on the socio-cultural-political ideology of Jewish exclusivity over the land of the Arab peoples. Israel has recently cemented this dishonest claim when Binyamin Netanyahu asserted that “Israel is not a state of all its citizens”. According to the nation-state law passed [in July 2018], Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people – and not anyone else.” So they have written racism into their law book. It does not take away from the fact that the nation-state law itself is a violation of human rights law. Israel cannot delegitimize an entire people merely to fulfill a political wish.
Over centuries and millenniums, Arabs have possessed a rich heritage and culture that has even found its mention in the bible. And so when the Jewish nation mistreats the Arab people, they are violating the culture and dignity of the Arab people. And so the nation-state law will always be reckoned as an aberration of civilizational standards and a repudiation of the fact of religio-cultural pluralism.
Israel will stop at nothing to use its economic clout and political methods to isolate the Palestinian and create separate existences for the Arabs and Jews. Today Jerusalem is separated. Arabs and Jews live in split neighbourhoods; use different school systems, even diverse bus networks. Jews will not even countenance visiting Arab areas. Arab areas are economically depressed because the occupation has never allowed appropriate levels of investment. The impacts allow the Israeli to front the narrative that the Jewish people are superior.
A recently commissioned cable car project will further entrench Jewish presence in Silwan and result in more vicious measures to purge the Palestinians from their legitimate spaces.
In the midst of these external intrusions, the Palestinian political class, mostly led by the PA and its Fatah faction, has done little to amalgamate political forces in their territories. Palestinians, whose rights have already been characteristically trampled by Israel’s occupation, must not be repressed by their own government.
Israel is a nation with no interest in equality
As a Palestinian citizen of Israel; it is a strange experience to watch your humanity become a subject of national debate between a prime minister and a model. Responding to criticism by the well-known Israeli actor Rotem Sela this week, Benjamin Netanyahu took it upon himself to declare, via Instagram: “Israel is not a state of all its citizens. According to the nation-state law we passed [in July 2018], Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people – and not anyone else.” His assertion quickly dominated international headlines. Israeli Hollywood actor Gal Gadot (who played Wonder Woman in the 2017 blockbuster), President Reuven Rivlin, and other public figures joined the fray to defend Sela, who had posted the question: “When the hell will someone in this government convey to the public that Israel is a state of all its citizens and that all people were created equal?”
Sela’s remarks are commendable. But Netanyahu is right: Israel is not a country built for its entire people, a fifth of whom (more than 1.5 million) are Palestinian Arab citizens of the state. This was the case long before the “Jewish nation-state law” was enacted last year, and long before Netanyahu returned as prime minister a decade ago.
Jerusalem’s cable car: moving in the wrong direction
Would you to damage the beautiful and ancient landscape of Jerusalem to stop East Jerusalem becoming part of a future Palestinian state? The Israeli government’s answer, in the form of a planned cable car to the Old City of Jerusalem, is “yes”. The cable car plan, approved by the government will start at the First Station shopping complex in West Jerusalem, before terminating in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. Silwan came under Israeli control in 1967.
Jerusalem remains very much divided. Arabs and Jews live in separate neighbourhoods, with separate school systems, and even separate bus networks. Most Jewish Jerusalemites wouldn’t dream of visiting Arab neighbourhoods, some of which are cut off by the separation wall, and all of which suffer from a deliberate and significant lack of investment. Israeli right is looking for ways to inextricably bind East Jerusalem to West Jerusalem, so that it can never be separated out into a Palestinian capital. That would be a death knell for the two-state solution. The cable car is one of a number of moves towards entrenching Jewish presence in Silwan, including the eviction of Palestinians to make way for Jewish settlers, refusing building permits to Palestinian residents. The cable car is a highly visible demonstration of the destructive lengths to which the Israeli right are prepared to go in order to pursue their vision. What kind of Israel will be left when they are done?
What are Palestinians doing to combat the ‘deal of the century’?
More US measures have been taken in recent weeks to further cement the Israeli position and isolate the Palestinian Authority (PA), before the official unveiling of President Donald Trump’s so-called “deal of the century”. But while attention is focused on spiteful US actions, little time has been spent discussing the PA’s own responses, options and strategies. The last of Washington’s punitive measures came on March 3, when the US shut down its consulate in Jerusalem, thus downgrading the status of its diplomatic mission in Palestine.
US State Department explained the move saying that “this decision was driven by our global efforts to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our diplomatic engagements and operations”. Efficiency and effectiveness have nothing to do with the shutting of the consulate. The decision is but a continuation of successive US measures aimed at “taking Jerusalem off the table”, as per Trump’s own words, of any future negotiations. International law, which recognizes East Jerusalem as an occupied Palestinian city, is of no relevance to the Trump administration, which has fully shed any semblance of balance, as it is now wholly embracing the Israeli position on Jerusalem.
Amnesty calls out ‘escalating’ rights violations by PA forces
Amnesty International has urged the Palestinian Authority to “reverse” an “appalling deterioration of human rights”, in a statement issued yesterday. The global rights group made the call as a new government headed by Mohammad Shtayyeh prepares to take the reins in Ramallah. According to Amnesty, since June 2014, “when the national consensus government led by former Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah came to power”, the group has “documented escalating human rights violations by Palestinian security forces in the West Bank…These include excessive use of force, arbitrary arrests, the use of torture and other forms of ill-treatment leading to deaths in custody, and an intensified crackdown on freedom of expression and civil society.” Amnesty International, said: “The new government must signal a sincere commitment to respecting its international human rights obligations by taking immediate steps to ensure that all laws and policies protect the rights and liberties of individuals under its authority…The near-total lack of accountability under previous governments has fuelled a climate of impunity which has encouraged the continued use of excessive force and other abuses by Palestinian police and other security forces today…Palestinians, whose rights have already been routinely crushed by Israel’s occupation, must not be brutalized and repressed by their own government. The new government must take effective measures to improve the human rights of all its people.”
German Jewish Peace Group Wins Peace Prize; Then Attacked as being Anti-Semitic
Shir Hever talks about the Göttingen Peace Prize and how it transformed the debate around Palestinian rights in Germany, despite efforts by right-wing politicians to prevent the prize from being given to Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East.
Read interview with Shir Hever talks about the Göttingen Peace Prize
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